Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?
I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, and I studied multimedia at the
University of South Australia. However I learnt most of what I know
about art from reading books and involving myself in online art
communities. The internet is a great environment for digital artists to
learn from each other and advance their skills.
How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end? (Please be very detailed and in depth with this
Design starts with a brief - a description or a purpose or a list of
characteristics, that come from a creative designer, a writer, or
whoever the client may be.
Sometimes an image will form in my head straight away and I'll sketch
it, then push it in different ways, trying to improve it. Other times I
will examine the brief and think about all the ways I can meet the
criteria, and what would be the most interesting, efficient or clear
solution. I will sketch a lot, perhaps comes up with three or four ideas
I like best, then develop those.
The design process is commonly iterative - the client gives feedback at
What do you think really helps you out in designing a character?
When designing, it helps to have my mind in a flexible state. You know
when you've spent a whole day trying to solve a problem, then the next
morning the answer suddenly comes to you? That because your mind has
relaxed and you can 'think' better. Ideally a designer will be in this
state all the time.
It helps to know enough about the character that you can get a variety
of ideas, but not so much that there's no room for creativity.
From your own experience and maybe from some people that you know, what
should we put in our portfolio and what should we not?
It depends what kind of work you're looking for. A targeted portfolio is
always better - adjust your portfolio depending on whether your
prospective employer is a children's TV company, a small games studio
specializing in horror games, or a film company. Show your best work,
show a variety of themes/media/styles, show development from sketch to
finished product. Demonstrate that you can design a 'standard' character
(perhaps a Knight or a Demon) but also show inventiveness (like a zombie
dentist). 'Designer' jobs are much more common than 'Character
Designer', so include storyboards, environments, vehicle designs etc if
you can. Remember that you are only as good as the worst item in your
What are some of the things that you have worked on?
I've done a little bit of work for TV show, comic and movie pitches, but
most of my work has been in computer games.
Is there a character design you have done that you are most proud of?
Actually I don't think very highly of my past character design work. I
haven't properly designed characters in a while, and all my old work
seems rather crappy now. Sorry!
What are you working on now? (If you can tell us)
I'm art directing a game called Bad Day L.A. (http://www.baddayla.com).
Where is the place you would like to work if you had a choice?
There's no particular place or company I really dream of working at/for.
My plan right now is to just go with the flow.
Who do you think are the top character designers out there?
I don't really think of any particular people as 'character designers',
they tend to exist as artists or designers who do characters, amongst
How do you go about coloring the character, what type of tools or media
do you use?
I almost always sketch with pencils and add color with Photoshop.
What type of things do you love to draw, and why?
People comment that I draw sad girls and fish a lot. I know why, but
telling you would ruin the fun.
What part of designing a character is most fun and easy, and what is
The most fun is sketching and coming up with weird outlandish ideas,
just letting my mind run amok. I'm not sure about easy... any section
can be tricky, for different characters. The hardest part is probably
trying to make both the client and myself happy.
What are some of your favorite character designs and least favorite,
which you have seen?
I love a lot of characters in The Labyrinth, The Never-ending Story,
Ninja Scroll and Porco Rosso. There are some I really love in the Star
Wars movies and the Fifth Element. I love the Hellboy (the comic, not
the movie) characters.
Without a doubt the stupidest character design ever is the main
character in Yu-Gi-Oh. You don't want to get me started on that.
What is your most favorite subject to draw?
I don't know. Cubes? Cubes are nice and easy.
What inspired you to become a Character Designer?
Nothing in particular... looking back, I have always liked coming up
with character designs. I remember drawing ideas for creatures when I
was about 8. I started designing characters when a game designer saw
some of my art and asked me to design some characters for him.
What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists
that you have worked with or seen?
Hmm. Neat things. Honestly 'neat' doesn't apply itself very well to art.
'Neat' has connotations of being simple, quick and yet ingenious. The
things I have learnt from other artists are rarely quick, they tend to
involve looking at things from a different perspective, or breaking some
rules that I thought existed. When you learn something from another
artist, often it will take a long time and/or a lot of hard work to
really understand it and use it well.
What wisdom could you give us, about being a character designer? Do you
have any tips you could give?
Don't take anything for granted. Explore the possibilities. Whenever
possible, be adventurous and trying to design something unexpected and
non-clichés. Clichés are horrible.
If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?
Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints,
or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to
Nope. Nothing for sale, I'm afraid. Just look at my website, it has all
my best stuff and it's free.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT KEN WONG GO TO
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